Larry Fitzgerald wasn’t surprised the Cardinals changed quarterbacks Sunday. Nothing, he said, surprises him anymore. He’s played for too long, seen too many things. He’s certainly played in many games with the Cardinals in which there has been a QB change without an injury.
To have Josh Rosen come in with less than five minutes left Sunday, needing a field goal to salvage a win? “In that situation, I’d say pretty difficult, going to win a game the first time you step in there,” Fitzgerald said.
It looked like Rosen might just do that. Then he didn’t. The three-yard loss on the Chase Edmonds run play changed life quickly, and that play will remain a touchpoint for this game as much as the QB switch. But I will be honest, I didn’t think the Cards would make a change and I certainly didn’t think so after the first quarter Sam Bradford and the offense had. Two nice TD throws. A 14-0 lead. It all seemed to point to a first win and a quieting of all the Rosen-will-he-or-won’t-he speculation.
The speculation may disappear now anyway. Coach Steve Wilks said he will take time to evaluate whether Rosen or Bradford will start next week. It would seem to me difficult to go back to Bradford at this point. That “spark” Wilks was looking for Sunday is something the Cardinals still need.
-- If there was any question still over who the No. 2 receiver is, that’s been answered, I’d think. Christian Kirk had a nice game (seven catches, 90 yards). If Rosen is the quarterback, given the connection the two rookies have, I’d think that’d only increase his opportunities.
-- There have been games when Fitzgerald only had a couple of catches, but I don’t remember a game in which he had only two targets.
-- The Cards wanted to get David Johnson the ball more in the passing game, and that initially worked. He came out of the backfield on his 21-yard TD catch, the play design taking away any help and leaving Johnson one-on-one with the linebacker, easy peezy. But he was only targeted three other times for a total of nine yards, and that included a nice 12-yard catch-and-juke.
That hurt because the Cards couldn’t run much, averaging just 2.9 yards a carry. Johnson had just 31 yards on 12 attempts.
-- You look up, and Khalil Mack had two sacks, and frankly, I didn’t notice him a ton (he led the Bears with five tackles.) Yet it was Mack who saved the day – he was the one who stripped Bradford on a scramble, the fumble that led to the Bears’ game-winning possession. Since Bradford hadn’t passed the line of scrimmage, it counted as a sack.
-- The personnel move everyone saw was Rosen for Bradford. But the Cardinals also benched Jamar Taylor late in the game in favor of Bené Benwikere as the No. 2 cornerback.
“Again, just felt like we needed a spark at that position, so we made the change,” Wilks said.
The funny thing is, there was a sequence that Taylor came up big on near the Cardinals’ goal line, taking down Tarik Cohen on a nice tackle at the 2 on second down and then breaking up an end zone pass, forcing a field goal.
-- Here’s a good spot to again remind you if you have any (legitimate) questions for the Tuesday mailbag, feel free to drop them here.
-- Speaking of personnel moves – and we will have to check the official snap counts tomorrow when the league releases them – the Cards seemed to make another Sunday on defense. I don’t recall seeing Deone Bucannon play a defensive snap. Only special teams. Josh Bynes and Gerald Hodges were the linebackers (unless the Cards went to dime and Bynes was the lone linebacker.)
-- Budda Baker looked like he had a solid game as he gets more comfortable in that hybrid safety/nickel/kinda-third-linebacker role.
-- It didn’t pay off, but that’s the kind of defense the Cardinals will need to find their way to the win column. Forcing some turnovers, keeping teams at least to field goals. Tre Boston is already lamenting the interception he dropped, and the Bears ended up scoring their lone TD after that. The margin for error on the team doesn’t allow for near-picks, unfortunately.
-- Seattle comes to town next week. After that, a road trip to San Francisco – which might’ve lost both QB Jimmy Garoppolo and CB Richard Sherman today. In the meantime, the quarterback situation will set the narrative for the Cardinals.